None of us asked to experience trauma. It shows up and lets itself in like an unwanted guest, leaving a whirlwind of pain and unanswered questions in its wake. On the other side of trauma, we find ourselves marked or changed in ways that we never thought possible.
Like it or not, trauma is part of life. In the United States alone, sixty-one percent of men and fifty-one percent of women have experienced at least one traumatic event.<1> When we look at those in the behavioral health system, the number of people who have experienced trauma skyrockets.
Trauma offers the individual no respect.
Trauma does not take into account:
· Social status.
Trauma never calls and asks permission to invade our lives, nor does it check our calendar to see if we have time to deal with the chaos that it brings.
Even today, when the dialogue is free and psychological resources abound, there are still people that attempt to ignore the trauma and pretend it never happened.
Why do we hide?
· Rejection or fear of rejection
· Don’t know where to go to get help
· Fear of being re-traumatized
What is trauma to me may not be trauma to you. As we have ministered emotional healing to individuals, we see people who have gone through the same event but process the event differently. From an emotional healing perspective, we need to be able to see the individual and hear their story without assessing if the event classifies as trauma. Sometimes we just need to be that listening ear, a friend that says there is hope, and they can learn to live again.
If we find ourselves in a position to walk with someone through their trauma, we need to understand our limits. Some people need counseling, some emotional healing, others need both. Everyone needs a friend, and people who can encourage them and speak life into them. God is so faithful to use any means necessary to bring healing and freedom to the individual.
If you are walking with someone, or if you have experienced trauma, know that there is hope!
We can do more than just learn to live again. It is possible to walk into a "but God" moment.
We desperately want to believe that when we walk with the Lord that everything will be fine with never any trauma affecting our lives. Wouldn't that be wonderful? However, if Scripture is our plumbline, we may have to change our belief system.
Who experienced trauma in the Bible?
We tend to read the book of Job and see the blessing that God poured out on him in the 2nd half of his life. However, Job LIVED through the trauma. He heard the reports of all his children dying and everything being taken away from him in a moment.
We meet her in the book of Ruth. Due to a famine, she and her family moved to a foreign land. While they were in the foreign land, her husband and both of her sons died. Again, we see God’s redemption later in life. However, she still had to walk through the trauma.
We meet Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. She is raped and silenced. We don’t see the “but God” moment in this one. We see a woman that ended up trapped in the trauma and the cultural stigma rather than experiencing healing and freedom.
The man with leprosy<2>
Leprosy was a dreaded disease, and due to the condition, this man would have been an outcast from society. However, he had an encounter with Jesus, and he was healed.
He was whipped and crucified. In His flesh, the human side, He experienced every one of those lashes. As He was nailed to the cross, He felt the nails' pain through His hands and feet.
As we seek the word of God, we realize we are not alone. One of the first things you learn in Critical Incident Stress Management is allowing people to tell their stories, so they know they are not alone.<3>
Prayer to begin to look at trauma from a Kingdom Perspective:
Lord, You know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and You understand my every thought before it even enters my mind…Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I run and hide from Your face?... Wherever I go, Your hand will guide me; Your strength will empower me. It's impossible to disappear from You or to ask the darkness to hide me, for Your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.<4>
Is it possible for God to bring light and healing into the trauma of my life?
The answer is a resounding, yes!
Dictionary.com defines trauma as this:
an experience that produces psychological injury or pain <5>
Trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. We were not created to live in trauma. Nor were we designed to carry the pain of trauma through our lives.
In Isaiah 61, we have a prophetic word about Jesus. Isaiah is stating that Jesus will come to bind up the brokenhearted, set captives free, and rebuild ancient ruins. That does not mean that the only time He was doing that was while He was physically walking on this earth. No, it means that today Jesus is still binding up the brokenhearted, setting captives free and rebuilding ancient ruins.
Key Question: In our pain, where do we run or hide?
We need to understand that healing from trauma does not come from denying the event happened. We cannot erase what has happened, but God can remove the pain. Remember, He came to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free.
In walking people through numerous models of healing from trauma, both in the secular community and within the religious community, I have firmly come to believe that God's heart is never to re-traumatize. As I have searched Scripture, I cannot find any account where the individual had to relive the trauma. What I see, instead, is God speaking life and healing into them.
A thief has only one thing in mind-he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow!<6>
God desires to restore life so that we can live life in its fullness, overflowing fullness.
Quite often, with trauma, one of the potential barriers is forgiveness. When trauma rampages into our life, we often go looking for someone to blame. And, many are victims who had no control over the situation.
The issue with not forgiving is that it holds us in bondage to the person and the situation. Beyond that, as we demand our "rights," we drag around a weighty anchor that prevents us from moving forward into the healing and wholeness that God has for us.
Key Thought: If you are having trouble beginning the process of forgiving, we have a significant first step for you to take in prayer.
Heavenly Father, You know everything that I have been through. I give You permission to help me take a step towards being willing to forgive, and I choose to trust You to protect my heart in the process.
Earlier I mentioned that the way we process trauma, also impacts the way we come through it. And remember, we were created to walk through trauma, not to become stuck in the event or the aftermath of the traumatic event.
Trauma always seeks to steal away:
· Our peace
· Our security
· Our future
Psalm 23 reminds us that we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. This passage immediately tells me that God intends that we do not stay in the place of death, pain, and trauma. And, that means that there is always a way out.
Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2 that we are not to copy the world. He makes it clear that we can allow God to change the way that we think. We were initially wired to think from God's perspective, not from man’s perspective.
How do we begin to change the way that we think?
· Ask God how He sees us and test what we see, sense, or hear back through Scripture.
· Send time with the Lord, making sure to not discount Scripture any that He may direct you to.
· Remember there is power and healing in the Word of God.
Sometimes, especially working through the trauma, we can have trouble hearing God.
Remind yourself of these things:
· God is with me
· He is faithful
· I have His Word in Scripture.
In the book of Psalms specifically, David was comfortable with expressing his emotions or feelings before God. He was able to tell God about life being unfair, about pain, anger, and more. I noticed that as I study these Psalms, David also learned to refocus on God and God's goodness. When we can begin to refocus or realign our focus on God, everything shifts.
We only tackled a few areas of trauma that can have an impact on your life. These powerful pointers can potentially help us take a step toward healing and freedom.
Remember: you have not been created to carry the trauma around in your life.
Remember: God is still in the business of healing every area of trauma experienced in your life.
Ruth Hendrickson is an ordained pastor, conference speaker, ministry trainer, and board-certified Biblical counselor who has extensive experience in the development, training, and oversight of emotional healing ministry teams, recovery ministries, prophetic ministry, prayer ministries and women’s ministry. In addition, she is a course facilitator for Patricia King Institute and Charisma courses. She writes for Elijah List and Charisma and has a podcast titled “Real Truth with Ruth.” Ruth is passionate about training, equipping, and releasing individuals to walk in freedom and wholeness through both physical and emotional healing.
Through biblically based teachings and practical applications infused with love and laughter, her goal is to introduce people not only to the living God who saves, but also to the God who desires an intimate relationship with each one of us.
Ruth is an avid unsweetened iced tea drinker who loves warm weather, palm trees and beaches! Needless to say, she believes that she should live in the South. However, in the meantime she and her husband Mark reside in Stockton, New Jersey.
Podcast: Real Truth with Ruth
<1> https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma. Accessed 5/29/20
<2> See Matthew 8:1-4
<3> Team, G. E. (n.d.). Critical Incident Stress Management. Retrieved August 10, 2020, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/critical-incident-stress-management
<4> The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com
Psalm 139:1-2, 7, 10-11
<5> Trauma. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10, 2020, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/trauma?s=t
<6> The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. John 10:10